Ports & Ships Maritime News

Mar 19, 2007
Author: P&S

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  • Cyclone Indlala brings food insecurity to Madagascar

  • Cruise ship Melody ends South African summer season and sails for Europe

  • Maputo’s new ferro chrome terminal under construction

  • Swan Hellenic bought by Lord Sterling

  • DRC shuts its borders with Zambia – copper exports frozen out

  • Pic of the day – OPAL STONE

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    Cyclone Indlala brings food insecurity to Madagascar

    Johannesburg, 16 March 2007 (IRIN) - Cyclone Indlala, the sixth storm to hit Madagascar this season, has halted ongoing relief efforts while further exacerbating food insecurity, prompting the United Nations (UN) and its partners to launch a US $ 9.6 million Flash Appeal to respond to the growing crisis.

    Indlala had been predicted to touch down in the island's second largest city and main harbour, Toamasina. Instead, the storm kept heading northward, and hit the major agricultural city of Antalaha on the east coast of the island at around 5a.m. (local time) on Thursday.

    The storm has been downgraded to a tropical depression as it moves south, but bad weather continues to prevent relief efforts near Antalaha. Reports from the area describe heavy damage to structures and agricultural land, with rice paddies completely inundated. Residents are without power or communication services.

    Tropical storms such as Indlala have been compounding the pressure on food security, especially in the country's arid southern region, where a drought has already affected 582,000 people. The government appealed for $ 242 million in international aid in February.

    Weather conditions have prevented relief efforts to cope with the aftermath of Indlala, as well as halting ongoing assistance for the victim of other recent storms and the drought, but will take off as soon as air travel becomes possible, according to Gianluca Ferrera, the World Food Programme Deputy Director in Madagascar.

    He stressed that food insecurity was mounting with each natural disaster that hit the island. "It has been a very difficult rainy season," he said, commenting the number of cyclones had been unusually high.

    The UN expects some 293,000 people will need assistance in coming months. Immediate needs include the supply of essential drugs, the prevention of waterborne diseases and food distribution. Overall, the country has lost more than one-third of its rice average annual production, with some areas losing 80 percent of their crops.

    (This report does not necessarily reflect the views of the United Nations)

    Cruise ship Melody ends South African summer season and sails for Europe

    After a highly successful summer season – the best yet according to the Starlight people – the 1500-passenger cruise ship Melody has returned to the Mediterranean after completing almost four months of cruising out of Durban.

    During this time the ship is reported to have carried 45,000 passengers, well above the 26,000 passengers who cruised from Durban in the Rhapsody in the summer of 2005/06.

    Melody will return to Durban in November for yet another summer season of cruising to Mozambique destinations. This includes several of the coastal islands as well as beach resorts along the coast and the occasional visit to Maputo and, if rumours are to be believed, the ship will be joined by a second vessel in the summer – Rhapsody.

    If so then one assumes Rhapsody will take on the longer cruises to Mauritius and Madagascar in addition to transferring to Cape Town for a number of weeks to offer people on the peninsular the opportunity of cruising along the southern Cape coast and to Walvis Bay and Luderitz in Namibia.

    This had in fact been planned for the season just past, with the intended second ship being the Monterey which would then have remained in South African waters throughout the winter and into the following summer as well. As has been well documented on these pages, Monterey developed major boiler problems which resulted in her going to the scrappers in India instead of cruising out of Durban, leaving a substantial number of reservations to be cancelled, reimbursed or swapped for cruises on the Melody.

    South Africa now has only one more cruise ship to look forward to this summer - QE2 in early April (6 April Durban and 8 April Cape Town).

    Maputo’s new ferro chrome terminal under construction

    The Maputo Corridor Liaison Initiative (MCLI) reports that construction of a 25,000 m² extension to the ferro chrome terminal at the port of Maputo is underway and is expected to be completed in June this year.

    South Africa and Zimbabwe are among the world’s highest quality producers of chrome and ferro alloys and Maputo is, geographically, the natural export terminal for this strategic export product.

    The port’s existing ferro terminal was commissioned less than two years ago and is already operating at near capacity. In 2006 Port Maputo handled in excess of 500,000 tonnes of ferro chrome which was mainly shipped to the steel mills of Northern Europe, Japan and China.

    The MCLI quoted a Maputo Port Development Company (MPDC) spokesman as saying the port’s new facilities provide significant operational benefits to exporters.

    “We are very pleased with the growth of this trade, which is expected to exceed 1m tones per annum over the next few years.”

    The MPDC operates Port Maputo on a 25-year concession from the Government of Mozambique.

    The port of Richards Bay is the other significant port of export within the southern African region which handles ferro chrome.

    Swan Hellenic bought by Lord Sterling

    A lifeline has been thrown to niche market cruise ship operator Swan Hellenic with the news that Lord Sterling, the former chairman of The Peninsular & Orient Steam Navigation Company, better known as P&O, and life president of P&O Cruises, has reached agreement with Carnival plc to acquire the assets of Swan Hellenic.

    The purchase agreement includes all trademarks and marketing database, meaning that the new owner will have access to records of previous clients loyal to Swan Hellenic, a single ship cruise operator catering to a distinct British clientele and operating cruises along a ‘discovery cruise’ theme.

    The agreement follows close on Carnival’s decision to close down the Swan Hellenic operation and transfer its single ship, MINERVA II to Carnival’s Princess Cruises as from 1 April.

    MINERVA II of Swan Hellenic, which is being transferred by Carnival plc to Princess Cruises as from 1 April 2007. Picture Terry Hutson

    Lord Sterling is quoted as saying "Swan is a British institution and I have been thinking about trying to save it for some time. I have been inundated with people talking to me and urging me to do something. I cannot make any promises about how quickly we can start operating, because we need to find a suitable ship that is of the highest standard, but we will move as fast as we can."

    He said it was his desire that Swan Hellenic would continue making voyages throughout the same regions as covered previously by the line but would add new areas of interest.

    “We are keenly aware of and grateful for the long-standing loyalty of so many Swan passengers and renowned guest speakers, and we look forward to renewing acquaintances in the not too distant future. We shall continue the culture and ethos with which this distinguished British brand is associated throughout the cruising world."

    Now the big question facing interested parties is which ship will the ‘new’ Swan Hellenic manage to acquire.

    DRC shuts its borders with Zambia – copper exports frozen out

    The Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) has closed three border crossings into Zambia, effectively shutting out its own export line for copper.

    According to reports there are more than 400 rail trucks laden with copper concentrate and intended for export stranded on the DRC side of the border.

    The border crossings involved are Lonshi, Sakania and Kasumbalesa each of which normally handle copper exports on a daily basis.

    Zambian authorities say they are nonplussed by the closure of the border and have asked the DRC authorities for the reason.

    Pic of the day – OPAL STONE

    Click on image to enlarge – with some browsers click twice

    The 36,376-gt Comoros-registered oil tanker OPAL STONE, built 1978 and seen at Durban’s Island View berth 9 in November 2002. Picture Terry Hutson

    NB Shipping pictures submitted by readers are always welcome – please email to info@ports.co.za

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